By Kathleen Berger
O'Fallon, MO (KSDK) - On Friday the latest jobs numbers came out. The unemployment rate fell from 9.2 to 9.1 percent. Families dealing with long-term unemployment are seeing little relief, and they're showing up in record numbers to at least one food pantry.
It's been a difficult two years for Susan Schiermeier. She lost her job, only to find she can't compete with the younger workforce who have updated training and can work long hours. She provides for a family of five, including her elderly mother-in-law.
All she could do to feed her family is ask the Salvation Army in O'Fallon, Missouri for help. The food pantry gives her food, but she works for it too, by volunteering for them three days a week.
"They were in desperate need of volunteers when my friend and I started volunteering there," said Schiermeier.
Desperate because the O'Fallon Salvation Army used to serve only 45 families a month. In a matter of months, 600 families are showing up for help.
"Some people here in this area had greater resources, just sort of a delayed effect before it hit," said Major Jeffery Richardson with The Salvation Army.
"Their money's gone. Their money just won't go any further," said Schiermeier.
Going from serving 45 families to about 600 families in a short amount of time is astonishing, but Schiermeier thinks families are just tapped out of resources, and higher food and gas prices put some families over the edge.
"Food prices went up and stuff and people just can't feed their families. A lot of them don't qualify for food stamps. Food prices have gone up, gas prices went up and how are they going to feed their kids," said Schiermeier.
With unemployment still high, there are also fewer donations, and that's impacting smaller food pantries and churches that can no longer help.
That's another reason why hundreds more people are turning to the Salvation Army.
"That's why we're there, to help people," said Schiermeier.
Schiermeier is hoping that people who have more, would consider donating food or money, or volunteer their time.
For more information on how you can help, call the Salvation Army in O'Fallon at 636-240-4969 ext.238.